Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Two Percent Introduction

Photographically, we are returning to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, three miles west of Superior, AZ.

We continued our walk through the 2.5 acre Demonstration Garden, which is a colorful introduction to "various plants situated in a functional landscape."

The plants are not all desert plants and many are not from Arizona, but they come from areas of the world that have dry climates with intense heat.

An important function in the Arboretum's mission is its commitment to education, so it, in essence, becomes a 320-acre living classroom.

However, I don't think we took advantage of the educational opportunity. We have been so taken with the colors of the desert flowers and cacti that we have not even taken the time to learn the names of the flowers shown here.

And even though many of these flowers are not desert wildflowers or even native to Arizona, the colors have been more important to us than the names and native locations.

As we approached the Arboretum on Highway 60 we could see the towering Picketpost Mountain dominating the southern horizon.

As we walked the Main Trail inside the Arboretum, the Mountain served as a backdrop for the Cactus Garden. Saguaro cacti covered the hillside leading up the mountain.

The three-acre cactus garden features cacti and other succulents from all over the Western Hemisphere. The Garden, set on the north side of Magma Ridge offers several winding trails to allow visitors to enjoy the beauty of the plants and scenery.

But again, because of our interest in the different shapes and colors of cacti, we spent more time taking photos than traveling the trails in the Arboretum.

With a collection of over 800 kinds of cacti, the Arboretum has become a center for the study of this family of desert plants. Most of the species are displayed in the Cactus Garden and in the cactus greenhouse at the Smith Interpretive Center.

The guidebook notes: "For the casual visitor, a walk through the Arboretum is an orientation to the plants of the world's deserts and semi-arid regions." Well, for us the orientation was limited to colors and shapes, so we may fall into the "ultra-casual" category.

Yet this initial glimpse into the offerings of the Arboretum were certainly enough to convince us that one or more return trips would be a wise investment of our time.

So, there we were at the end of the day having covered less than two percent of the Arboretum's grounds, yet feeling that we had sampled a great deal of its color and beauty.

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